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Lucile Collin - Economic Analyst (G7/20) at the European Commission

27 Feb 2024 11:10 | Anonymous

Meet our Talent Lucile Collin, Economic Analyst (G7/20) at the European Commission. She unpacks how she is working at the Commission to tackle issues that trangress national borders, why female empowerment is still needed in the finance sector, and shares her experience of the Women Talent Pool programme. 

Interviewed by Claudia Heard


You are currently an Economic Analyst with a focus on the G7/20 at the European Commission and were previously a Press and Media Officer in the Financial Services Department. What inspired this transition from a PR-based role to a more analytical position? How has your experience and the skills you’ve acquired in different areas shaped your understanding of EU workings and your approach to your current role?

My background is more analytical, as I studied public policy, including law and economics, with a focus on EU affairs. My work experience has also largely been in EU economic policymaking in different places – the French civil service, the French Senate, a brief stint in the private sector as an EU affairs consultant, and then in the Commission, focusing on economic, financial and competition issues. All these different experiences have helped me to understand the points of views of various stakeholders involved in EU policymaking, and to see the bigger picture, including how one policy area can impact another.

My experience in communications was very valuable for my path because I had to translate complex technical issues on financial services regulation into key messages for journalists and build narratives, being aware of the wider political context, while reacting quickly to political developments and anticipating what could come next. These skills will be useful throughout my career.

In my current role, I combine technical aspects (e.g. working on the international financial architecture) with political and communication aspects, preparing the participation of my Commissioner and the European Commission President in the G20. All this while being able to see first-hand the wider geopolitical context, which makes my job really interesting.


Your work focuses on sovereign debt restructuring among other issues. Could you elaborate on the main challenges facing countries with sovereign debt and what informs the EU’s strategy on alleviating this debt?

At the Commission, we’re concerned about raising debt vulnerabilities in developing countries, especially the poorest ones. These vulnerabilities were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine and its impact on food and energy prices. The situation now is not as bad as it was in the 1990s, but we can still see that 60% of low-income countries are either in debt distress or at high risk of it. When that debt burden is no longer sustainable, this is when debt restructuring come in. For this to happen, you need all the creditors to agree on fair burden-sharing in providing that relief. This poses a problem because the creditor landscape is much more complex than it used to be – China is now a much more important creditor and private creditors are more prevalent too, so the coordination between all these stakeholders is much more difficult nowadays.

In November, the G20 adopted a Common Framework for debt treatment. Now, the focus is on improving its implementation to reduce delays, make the process clearer and more transparent for borrowing countries. So, I’m part of the working group that collaborates with G20 partners, the IMF and the World Bank, to improve this process. The EU is a permanent member of the G20, so we have a significant voice at the table, and we need to make it count.


How, in your view, can co-operative relationships be fostered between economies of the G7 and those of the Global South?

I am expressing my own views here which may not necessarily reflect those of the Commission and I am not speaking in the name of the Commission. First, I think it's important to protect multilateralism. Internationally, there have been rising tensions, starting with Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has seen the violation of basic principles of the UN Charter. Therefore, it's more important than ever to defend these principles, which were put in place to protect smaller countries and economies from bigger ones. More generally, I think that if we want to address common challenges, there needs to be some common rules.

The world order has seen big shifts since the end of World War II, with decolonisation for example. We see a lot of requests from different countries in the “Global South” to make global governance more representative, a lot of which I think are very legitimate. So, in the G20 we also work on reforming international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. But with a bigger voice also come bigger responsibilities.

A very important issue to consider in cooperation between the G7 countries and the “Global South” is climate; an area where there is a huge need for international cooperation. We all have common yet differentiated responsibilities to address climate change. The EU is responsible for less than 10% of global emissions, so we can’t do it alone, but we do have a responsibility to help poor countries, for example with climate finance, of which we are the largest provider worldwide.


We all have common yet differentiated responsibilities to address climate change


Having represented France at the 2016 Girls20 Summit at the margins of the G20 Summit in China, why is female empowerment important to you particularly in the finance sector?

At G20 summits, you have a lot of mobilisations from civil society, youth organisations and businesses making recommendations. So, we gathered as young women aged 18-23 from different G20 countries to make recommendations to the G20 leaders on reducing the gender gap in labour force participation. This is important because when you increase female participation in the labour force, you improve outcomes for girls and women, relating to health and reduced domestic violence, for example, but you also see better outcomes for the economy and society as a whole.

This is still a relevant issue today. A few months ago, the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Claudia Goldin, an American historian and economist, who found that the progress in closing the gender gap has been slowing, and that the birth of a woman’s first child is still a major factor, explaining the gender pay gap within the same job. I firmly believe that a woman should not have to choose between her career or having a family. Men don’t ask themselves the question, so why should we?

This matters especially in the finance sector, where you see there are still fewer women at the top. According to a recent EY survey, a third of financial firms still report below 40% female board representation, falling short of the quotas established by the EU which will become binding from 2026, so there’s still work to be done.


I firmly believe that a woman should not have to choose between her career or having a family. Men don’t ask themselves the question, so why should we?


While studying at UCL in London and SciencesPo in Paris you were an EU Careers Ambassador. What attracted you to a career in EU institutions and what advice would you give to young people trying to pursue a similar path by breaking into a competitive organisation?

The main reason for wanting to work in the EU was to make a positive contribution in the world, but this desire arose from a personal story. My grandfather, now 97 years old, is from Alsace, a region in France which was at the centre of several wars between France and Germany. He lost his own relatives and friends from the region in the Second World War with Germany, and yet, he sent his own children, including my father, to learn German in Germany. I think it's incredible that in just one generation, we were able to establish long-lasting peace. So, to me, peace in Europe really means something. And now that many decisions are taken at the EU level, working for the EU means you can have an impact on 450 million Europeans. It allows us to tackle common issues like climate change, which can only be addressed beyond national borders.

Working in the EU allows you to be in a multicultural environment, speaking several languages a day, as well as offering job mobility and the opportunity to work in different policy areas. My advice for young people interested in this path would be to start with a traineeship at the European Commission, which allows you to experience working for an EU institution for 5 months. From there, you can progress to the Junior Professionals programme. There are also external competitions to recruit permanent officials, if you are an EU citizen and have completed a degree, which is how I signed up. It’s important to master at least 2 EU official languages, and we look for all kinds of profiles, so I would encourage anyone to apply.


Now that many decisions are taken at the EU level, working for the EU means you can have an impact on 450 million Europeans. It allows us to tackle common issues like climate change, which can only be addressed beyond national borders.


With the Women Talent Pool 8th edition now ending, could you share an important lesson you have learnt or a skill you have developed as a participant?

As women, we often don’t take the time to network, saying we have too much work and no time for such things. What I learnt on the programme is that networking is work, and that it is like an investment into your career. While I was on the programme, my network allowed me to be the first one to hear of a new vacancy, which is now my job, and I gathered intelligence from contacts which was directly useful for my role.

Another lesson I’ve learnt is that there is a real need for solidarity between women at the office and to encourage other women around us, to speak up, be visible, and make our voices heard. That’s something I’ll keep with me for the rest of my career.

 



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